Off Shore Islands

Cannon Beach

How did some Oregon Master Naturalist students spend the day with conditions like this?

Cannon Beach Weather
Saturday April 19
Wind direction SSW
Wind speed 15.0 mph
Gusts 24 – 32mph
Rains heavy
Temp 48 °F

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We met in Cannon Beach.

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Listened to presenters talk about seabirds…

and marine mammals.

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Our field experiences at Haystack Rock were cut short due to very strong winds, pounding rain, and pelting sands.

Hopes to spend the morning immersed in activities to learn about seabirds nesting at Haystack Rock and the surrounding tide pools were dashed when weather conditions forced Friends of Haystack Rock to pack up interpretive displays.  I was disappointed, as I’m sure were others, by our unfortunate circumstances. 

Observations were difficult to make, and the use of binoculars and cameras was trying at best. 

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Lightroom editing greatly assisted in making the following shots less “washed out,”  and provide a small glimpse of offshore island biodiversity.

  • Sea stars were still visible in the tidal pools and clinging to the rocks at the base of Haystack Rock, however, I don’t think their numbers are as great as I recall observing during past visits to the Rock Marine Garden and National Wildlife Refuge. I had hoped to learn more about Sea Star Wasting Syndrome during this class. 
  • Five species of seabirds nest here during the spring and summer months. Prior to the walk on the beach, Dawn Harris helped us to understand the unique breeding behaviors exhibited, and the nesting requirements  needed by Tufted Puffins, Western Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, and Black Oystercatchers during mating and chick-rearing season. Weather greatly hindered our ability to look up for any length of time, and handicapped the use of binoculars and cameras.(Did I say that already? It was so true!)
  • Signs are posted on the sea stack to prohibit intrusion into sensitive nesting territory.
  • I was able to only capture photographs of  Western Gulls nesting, and Common Murres in flight above the roosting area.

I hope to make a return visit to Haystack Rock during better weather conditions, and when the Haystack Rock volunteers are available. I’m anxious to further my understanding and to expand my observations of wildlife in this unique offshore habitat.

4 comments

    1. Thank you for the empathy, Lisa.
      We have enjoyed all of our classes and are learning a lot. Conditions at Haystack were disappointing only because we knew the potential! And… as the photographer in the group, it was sad not to have the wealth of photo ops that Haystack Rock offers so far as wildlife goes. Scenery shots are great… no matter what the weather 🙂

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  1. That’s too bad that your learning was cut short last Saturday; sounds a bit like yesterday’s weather (three bouts of hail!).
    We were at Haystack Rock at low tide on Thursday afternoon; much nicer weather, but a scan with my binocs revealed only the Western Gulls. Didn’t see any murres (possibly I don’t know what to look for). Did see some sea stars, though! They’re quite gregarious creatures, the way they overlap one another.

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    1. Hello Oregon Coast Traveler!
      It was disappointing, normally we just take weather at the beach in stride… it’s part of the coast experience. However, for a class… conditions were less than optimal. Hail! Three times- I’m not surprised, we had outstanding thunderclaps on this side of the Coast Range! Weather is improving this week… how long is your stay?

      Glad to hear your weather at Haystack was nice. The Western Gulls are easy to spot. There are Puffins Nesting in the little nooks and crannies.(I didn’t see them, but a couple of classmates were able to see briefly before their binoculars were overcome by raindrops!)

      It grand that you saw the sea stars. Sadly, our coastal areas are affected by a wide-spread phenomenon known as Sea Star Wasting Disease or syndrome.
      http://www.eeb.ucsc.edu/pacificrockyintertidal/data-products/sea-star-wasting/index.html
      Enjoy your travels- Jane

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